Use of copyright materials at uOttawa is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act, and various agreements and licences entered into by the University with copyright holders and representative organizations. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright materials. In addition to this, the University has special agreements with copyright holders, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which give you additional rights to certain content.
In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to check that you comply with any agreements or licences covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:
Is the work in question covered by an agreement or licences (see Question 3.3) that the University library has with publishers, or a public licence such as a Creative Commons licence? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licences?
If you’re not covered by any agreement or licence or an exception under the Act, you’ll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright holder (see Question 1.11).
Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of things, ranging from books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites (see Overview).
No. Plagiarism is the incorrect use of source material without adequately or properly attributing it to the author. If you are taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own, you are plagiarising.
Copyright infringement, however, is more than just the inadequate citation of a source. It involves the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of someone else’s work. However, there are some exceptions in the Copyright Act, such as the “fair dealing” exception, which allows you to copy a small amount of another person’s work if it falls into certain categories (see the University’s set of Fair dealing guidelines for more information). Another exception is the educational institution exception, which makes it possible to reproduce another person’s work for the purpose of education or training. For more information about these exceptions, please consult our Exceptions to copyright page.
Copyright protection arises automatically when any one of the above types of works (see Question 1.2) is created, and generally continues for 50-70 years after the creator/author's death. If the creator died in 1971 or earlier, the period is 50 years from the end of the year of their death. If the creator died in 1972 or later, the period is 70 years from the end of the year of their death.
The duration of copyright can also depend on the type of work and where you want to use it (e.g. sound recordings or films – see Question 1.8). When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there’s a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50-70 years, as applicable.
Copyright gives the copyright holder a number of legal rights, such as the right to copy and translate a work and the right to communicate a work to the public by telecommunication. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions, which balance the copyright holder’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.
Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use, or "dealing" with, a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody, provided that what you do with the work is "fair". Whether something is considered "fair" will depend on the circumstances, including the amount of material used, and the motives or intentions of the user of the material. For example, using 5% of a copyrighted article for personal academic research is more likely to be considered fair dealing than using 15% of the article for profit-driven corporate research. While each case will be different, depending on the material used, when evaluating whether a dealing is fair, courts will normally consider factors such as:
the purpose of the dealing (Is it one of the allowable purposes listed above, like research or education? Will the work be used for profit or for commercial reasons?)
the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
the character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing, repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)
Your use does not need to meet every one of these factors in order to be fair, and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at these factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair.
If the use can be characterized as "fair" according to these considerations, it will fall within the fair dealing exception and will not require permission from the copyright holder. If your purpose is criticism, review, or news summary, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing.
Note: for further clarity and additional information about limits on the amount and nature of copying permitted under fair dealing in certain contexts, please see the University’s Fair Dealing Guidelines.
Additional note: it’s important to distinguish "fair dealing" from "fair use". The fair use exception in U.S. copyright law is NOT the equivalent of fair dealing in Canadian law. The wording and scope of the two exceptions are different. It is important to make sure that you consider the Canadian law and aren’t relying on U.S. information.
Yes. While fair dealing doesn't specifically mention teaching, it does mention education: therefore, educational materials, such as lectures and PowerPoint presentations designed for classrooms can use copyrighted materials under fair dealing. The Supreme Court of Canada has also ruled that a teacher may make copies of short excerpts of copyright-protected works and distribute them to students as part of classroom instruction under the fair dealing exception (see the For Instructors page for details about fair dealing by instructors).
The duration of copyright depends on the country you are in. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator/author, plus 50-70 years after their death. If the creator died in 1971 or earlier, the period is 50 years from the end of the year of their death. If the creator died in 1972 or later, the period is 70 years from the end of the year of their death. However, there are some exceptions:
Performers' performances and broadcast signals: the term of copyright protection for performers' performances and broadcasts is 50 years from the end of the year in which the performance was made (if it isn’t fixed in a sound recording) or the signal was broadcast. For performers' performances fixed in a sound recording before the 50 year period expires, the term is extended to either (a) the end of the year 70 years after its fixation (if unpublished) or (b) until the earlier of the end of the year 75 years after publication and the end of the year 100 years after fixation.
Films and cinematographic works:
Dramatic work: the term of copyright protection lasts for the life of the creator and a period of 50-70 years from the end of the year in which the creator died. Dramatic works include most films, TV series or sitcoms and made-for-TV feature films, cartoons, sketch comedy, reality TV and any other production that involves fictional elements and a pre-planned script, written or otherwise.
Non-dramatic work: the term of copyright protection for non-dramatic films and cinematographic works is 70 years from the end of the year in which it was created (if it isn’t published). For non-dramatic films and cinematographic works published before the 70 year period expires, the terms is extended to the earlier of (a) the end of the year 75 years after its publication or (b) the end of the year 100 years after creation. Non-dramatic works include sporting events, educational programs, news broadcasts, and game shows.
Photographs: Photographs are protected for 50-70 years following the death of the photographer, unless they were taken before January 1, 1949, in which case they are generally no longer protected by copyright (with the potential exception of unpublished Crown copyright materials).
Anonymous or pseudonymous works: the term of copyright protection for a work published anonymously or under a pseudonym is 75 years from the end of the year in which it was created (if it isn’t published). For anonymous of pseudonymous works published before the 75 year period expires, the term is extended to the earlier of (a) the end of the year 75 years after its publication or (b) the end of the year 100 years after creation. If the creator becomes known, the work will be given the same term as a non-anonymous work. If the work has multiple authors, it will have the same duration of protection as a work with a single author, and if any of the authors become publicly known, copyright lasts for the life of whichever of the authors dies last, the remainder of the calendar year in which that author dies, and for 50-70 years following the end of that calendar year.
Posthumous works: If a previously unknown work is published, performed, or communicated to the public by telecommunication after the creator’s death, copyright protection will last for a minimum of 50 years following the calendar year of its first publication, performance, or communication to the public by telecommunication. Several conditions exist that may vary the period of posthumous copyright; see Section 7 of the Copyright Act for more information.
Works with joint or multiple authors: If a work has joint authors, copyright will last for the remainder of the calendar year of the death of the last author’s death plus 50-70 years. Conditions that reference periods or extensions “after the death of the author” will be applied to the death of the last author.
Crown copyright materials: Crown copyright materials are materials that have been produced by, for, or are controlled by a Canadian government entity. Copyright for Crown copyright materials lasts from the date of publication of a work plus 50 years for published materials; if the work is not published, the copyright lasts indefinitely. The same period is applied equally to all Crown copyright materials, regardless of whether they fit into one of the other categories listed above.
By contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication and the date of creation. Use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.
The term "public domain" refers to works in which copyright has expired, and which can be used and distributed freely and without permission (see Questions 1.4 and 1.8). However, forms other than the original work, such as new or annotated editions, may still be protected by copyright.
For example, since William Shakespeare died over 400 years ago, the copyright on his plays has expired, and they fall within the public domain. However, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces, etc.) which are copyright protected because the authors have used their skill and judgment in creating the new material. This additional material creates a new copyright, but not for the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright had expired.
While the Internet makes many materials publicly available, do not assume material you find on the Internet is in the public domain. Most online material is protected by copyright. However, you may be able to use it for educational purposes, since many uses will be covered by fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material that is publicly available through the Internet. See the page For Instructors for details about using fair dealing in your teaching, or on the exception for educational use of Internet materials.
Note: Some copyright holders have made clear declarations that certain uses of their copyright works may be made without permission or payment. For example, the Reproduction of Federal Law Order permits anyone, without charge or request for permission, to reproduce Canadian laws and decisions of federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals in Canada.
Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. Generally, your copyright will be protected in other countries; however, the level of protection might be different than in Canada, since each country has its own copyright laws. When using copyright-protected materials, you should generally apply the law of the country where the use occurs. For example, if you are photocopying a chapter of a book in the United States, U.S. law applies. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work in another country, you will need to check the particular country’s copyright laws to confirm whether they are infringing your copyright.
Moral rights are additional rights held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They consist of rights that protect the integrity of a work and the reputation of its author. The right of attribution is the right to always be identified as the author of a work or to remain anonymous. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way that is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their works and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.
Works prepared within the scope of employment, also called "works for hire", generally belong to the employer. However, in keeping with academic tradition, and article 35 of the collective agreement between the University of Ottawa and the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, the University generally grants ownership of copyrights of original works resulting from faculty members' or students' own efforts to the creator(s).
You may only scan something if the use falls within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing, or where no permission is required, such as scanning a public domain work. If you want to scan a work that is still in copyright and add it to a website, be sure that the website is password protected and restricted to students enrolled in your course (e.g. Virtual Campus). If what you want to do falls outside the exceptions and is not in the public domain, you will need to get the copyright holder’s permission (see Question 1.11).
Data is not generally protected by copyright in Canada. The way data is formatted or represented may be protected (such as a graph, a database or a data set), but the raw data itself can still be used and reformatted.
2. Copyright in the classroom
Yes. Fair dealing allows you to scan or copy another person’s works and hand them out to students enrolled in your course, such as a print journal article or book chapter, as long as you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. It’s important to note that fair dealing does not allow you to scan material and add it to a website unless that website is password protected and restricted to students enrolled in your course (e.g. Virtual Campus). If you want to scan a copyright protected work for inclusion on an open website, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Please see the University’s Fair Dealing Guidelines and For Instructors pages for details.
Note however that in some instances a copyright-protected work is made available under a digital licence that prohibits certain uses such as posting an electronic article to Virtual Campus. Any such restrictions should be respected, and seen as taking precedence over fair dealing. Consult Using Electronic Resources for information about such restrictions, as well as Question 3.3.
Note, however, that in some instances, a copyright-protected work is made available under a digital licence that prohibits certain uses, such as posting an electronic article to Virtual Campus. Any such restrictions should be respected and seen as taking precedence over fair dealing. Consult Using Electronic Resources for information about these restrictions, as well as Question 3.3.
Yes. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available world-wide. Wide distribution tends towards the conclusion that the dealing is not “fair”, and such uses may not be covered by any University licences. By contrast, uOttawa's Virtual Campus is a password protected, secure website accessible only by students enrolled in university courses. In some cases, posting material on Virtual Campus will be covered by one of the University’s electronic subscriptions. The key thing to remember is that permission to post a copyright-protected work to Virtual Campus doesn’t mean you have permission to post the work on your personal website (see Using Virtual Campus).
Yes. The Fair Dealing Guidelines permit the copying of an entire journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course, or you may scan and post a copy of the article on Virtual Campus.
Keep in mind that allowable use of e-journal articles is governed by a licence. See Using Electronic Resources, Question 2.2 and Question 3.3 for more information.
Not always. In some instances, the journal article is made available under a licence that prohibits posting to Virtual Campus (see Using Electronic Resources, Question 2.2 and Question 3.3).
The licences for some e-journals provided by the Library allow instructors to upload articles into secure course management systems such as uOttawa's Virtual Campus. While there may be a good reason to upload articles to Virtual Campus, it is important to consider that doing so could mean that your students do not have the most recent version of the article. It is not unusual for publishers to make corrections or changes to articles after initial publication. A direct link is the best way to ensure access to the most recent version of an article. Linking to the article also allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus (see Linking to Full-Text Articles and E-books).
Even in cases where uploading and linking to articles on Virtual Campus is permitted by the licences, it is important to remember that licences generally do not permit you to upload to or create links on a website that is not part of the University’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large. None of the licences that the Library currently holds with publishers allows for uploading to, or linking from, websites that allow access without authentication.
Yes. The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, on University premises, before an audience consisting primarily of students. However, if you want to use music for non-educational purposes, such as background music in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and Re:Sound.
You may play videos in class under the following circumstances:
You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a digital lock to access the film or work.
If the film or cinematographic work is within the public domain.
If you want to show a television news program in the classroom, under the Copyright Act, educational institutions (or those acting under their authority) may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class.
You may perform a work available through the Internet (e.g. YouTube videos) except under the following circumstances:
The work is protected by digital locks preventing their performance (e.g. passwords or geographical restrictions)
A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
You have reason to believe that the work available on the Internet is in violation of the copyright holder’s rights.
Generally, yes. Since fair dealing now includes education, students may include limited amounts of material in their assignments and presentations. See the Fair Dealing Guidelines for details.
Yes. There's a wealth of available material which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain limited conditions, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgement of the author.
Generally, no. Although content on the web is protected in the same way as print and other formats, even without a copyright symbol or notice, linking directly to the web page you wish to use is almost always permissible. However, you should try to ensure that the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web page does not clearly identify the website and content owner, include the full details of the author, copyright holder and source of the materials along with the link. This will avoid any suggestion that the website is your own material or affiliated with your own website.
Yes; as long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing, you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, on Virtual Campus. For example, you may post multiple images from a book as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book (see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for details). If you wish to post such material to a website, that website must be password protected or otherwise restricted to students enrolled in your course (see Using Virtual Campus).
Please note that even if you acknowledge the author and source of a work, you will still be liable for copyright infringement if the works are used inappropriately. Acknowledging the source is no defence if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act, so make sure you either fall within an exception or have the copyright holder’s permission.
Only if you have the student’s permission. The University has the right to make copies of the work for academic purposes, but this right does not extend to making it available online. You should also ask students in advance whether they consent to having their work posted online and keep written records of the permissions given.
3. Copyright in the library (Reserves, Interlibrary Loan & e-resources)
The Reserves service will accept:
Personal materials of instructors, for which they own the copyright (e.g. assignment questions/solutions)
Original print books, textbooks, DVDs, CDs, etc.
The University Library offers an inter-library loan service, with staff available to assist you (see Interlibrary Loan).
The University Library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.
In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates licence agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Users must be currently registered faculty, students, or staff. Only these individuals will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library.
If licence terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily suspend access for the entire university community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the vendor may have the right to permanently revoke a licence and access to the resource.
You can help prevent such problems by adhering to good practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some rules of thumb:
Usually OK (check for individual conditions):
making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
sharing materials with uOttawa faculty, staff and students
posting links to specific content
systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the university community
systematic sharing with people other than registered uOttawa faculty, staff and students
posting actual content or articles to third party web sites or online mailing lists (listservs)
modifying or altering the contents of licensed resources in any way
Always acknowledge the sources on any published or unpublished document when you use data found via electronic resources.
Note: Some licence agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves, course packs, multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Other licences may prohibit one or more of these activities (see Using Electronic Resources). If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact [email protected].
4. Copyright and course packs
Under fair dealing, short excerpts of copyright-protected material may be included in printed course packs without permission (see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for details). In addition, some material covered by the Library’s licences for electronic resources may be included in course packs.
Any materials that you would like to include in printed course packs are assessed by clearance staff for copyright clearance requirements. This includes materials from the Internet, government publications, and unpublished works, as well as books and journals. Providing details such as book/journal title, web address, author name, ISBN/ISSN number, page range and the total number of pages in a book will help to confirm permission more quickly. More information can be found on the Creating Print Course Packs page; for other questions about using copyright materials in course packs, please contact the Copyright Office at 613-562-5800 ext. 3105 or by email at [email protected].
It depends. If the amount and purpose of the copying is covered by fair dealing, another exception or a licence that the Library has for electronic resources, you will not need express permission. For example, if you want copies printed for classroom handouts, and the amount to be copied is consistent with fair dealing, you will not need permission. However if, what you want to copy is not covered by fair dealing, another exception or a Library licence, permission will be needed. Any material submitted for printing at the uOttawa docUcentre is checked for copyright clearance. If you have permission to copy the item from the copyright holder, please provide documentation for the permission when submitting your order to the docUcentre. If you do not have permission, clearance staff will seek to obtain permission where required.
There are some special cases which may take longer for copyright clearance, such as reproducing entire out-of-print books or rare/fragile materials. When you place your order, the clearance staff can assess what copyright clearance may be required. If you have any questions regarding copyright, please contact the Copyright Office at 613-562-5800 ext. 3105 or by email at [email protected].
If the copy posted to Virtual Campus is covered by fair dealing, it is likely that the copy can be included in printed course packs without permission. However, if the copy posted to Virtual Campus is permitted under a licence agreement between uOttawa and the publisher, you must consult the licence agreement to determine whether a copy may also be included in course packs (see Using Electronic Resources for more information). Some copyright holders will grant users permission to put information on password-secured websites, like uOttawa's Virtual Campus, but not to reproduce the information in print format. Clearance staff must confirm whether permission is required separately, even if the information is already on Virtual Campus – for more information, please contact the Copyright Office at 613-562-5800 ext. 3105 or by email at [email protected].
Copyright holders and creators of works have the right to charge a fee for the use of their materials unless the use is otherwise covered by fair dealing, another exception, or a Library licence. These fees vary, usually based on the number of pages or excerpts copied and the number of copies made. All copyright charges are collected on behalf of the copyright holders and remitted to them.